Recently, I was invited to a special event by EA Sports to learn about the next generation videogame entry in the EA Sports NHL franchise—NHL 22. The event was hosted by Ray Almeda, Global PR Lead at EA Sports along with Sean Ramjagsingh, Vice President and GM of NHL along with Clement Kwong, Producer of NHL.
One of the biggest announcements from the event was that NHL 22 is following in the footsteps of FIFA and Madden by transitioning over to the Frostbite Engine. Furthermore, NHL 22 on the PS4 and Xbox One will also be using the Frostbite Engine and is fully featured. Additionally, Toronto Maple Leaf superstar Austin Matthews was announced during the event as the cover athlete for NHL 22. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from this exciting event!
NHL 22 Details
Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PS4
Release Date: October 15, 2021
Developer: EA Vancouver
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
Inspired by Madden but uniquely hockey, Superstar X-Factor turns to a new generation of elite hockey talent that NHL 22 turns into heroes on the virtual ice. Madden did a phenomenal job of telling stories of what makes a player special with their X-Factor feature set. Not only does X-Factor enable great storytelling but it also adds new meta to gameplay that injects more strategy and competition.
By adding a new meta benefit to gameplay, X-Factors also benefits every major mode in NHL 22. Moreover, X-Factors allows the game to tell new stories and tap into real-world hockey conversation for all hockey fans.
Two different tiers of abilities
X-Factors contain two different tiers of abilities: Zone and Superstar. As a result, the top players and league leaders in the NHL, about 100 players at launch, are assigned Zone Abilities. These are very powerful abilities, so eligible players are only assigned one each. Some Zone Abilities are identifiable as they have unique animations when triggered such as puck pickups, deflections and protect puck. For example, Austin Matthews has the Shock & Awe Zone Ability—exceptional power and accuracy shooting out of, or shortly after a deke.
When used, the opposing team will have to strategize on how they want to counter the Zone Ability. As a result, players have to be aware of who is on the ice, how to deal with them and how to create their own advantages. Next, eligible players with Superstar Abilities can be assigned one or more. Superstar Abilities are less powerful than Zone Abilities.
For Franchise Mode players, NHL 22 adds X-Factors. All-new scouting reports allow you to scout both Pro and Amateur X-Factor players. Once you have your X-Factor ability players scouted, finding chemistry in a line is the next step. Finally, the Seattle Kraken has been added to the expansion draft as well as the ability to start your own expansion franchise with the 33rd team.
Be a Pro
With NHL 21, Be a Pro was fully overhauled. NHL 22 adds X-Factor and multi-season story lines. With Be a Pro X-Factors, you create your own player by earning different abilities throughout your career. And, NHL 22 includes new dynamic challenges that allow you to earn X-Factor points to unlock more slots.
HUT (Hockey Ultimate Team)
In Hockey Ultimate Team, X-Factor players will be the most sought-after because of their game-breaking abilities. A new class of HUT cards is being added to NHL 22 that contain upgrade slots, which allow you to enable Zone Abilities to players that have these upgrade slots available.
Frostbite Engine and next gen visuals
The team at EA Vancouver has invested heavily in building a new visual foundation for the series that is driven by the Frostbite Engine and a new generation of consoles. Therefore, next gen visuals are broken into three categories: Environments & Atmosphere, Superstar Authenticity and New AR Presentation.
Environments & Atmosphere
One of the biggest benefits of the Frostbite Engine is deferred lighting, which creates immersive environments. As a result, in NHL 22, all of the arenas have been rebuilt and relit to bring the atmosphere to life. The ice is a prominent and distinct part of the hockey environment, and NHL 22 makes it an area of focus. Where as the ice surface in NHL 21 is uniform and lacks the layers of depth, the Frostbite Engine brings the ice to life with dynamic lighting on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. Additionally, all of the outdoor World CHEL environments also get a visual lift.
Here is an overview of the visual features for environments and atmosphere in NHL 22.
|All Platforms||Next Gen Only (PS5 and Xbox Series X|S)|
|– Authentic Arenas||– Dynamic Lighting & Enhanced Shadows|
|– Deferred Lighting Everywhere||– Micro Details|
|– Improved VFX||– Enhanced Effects|
|– Post FX|
|– Particle FX|
|– Ice Improvements|
|– Dynamic AO|
Superstar Authenticity starts with an overhauled player likeness. As a result, over 100 star players and generic player head models have been totally rebuilt from the ground up to reflect the current season and to bring more details to your favourite NHL players. Enhancements across all platforms include skin and eye shading. However, PS5 and Xbox Series X|S will get NHL players with enhanced jerseys and equipment with life-like textures and fabric.
NHL 22 launches October 15, 2021
By and large, from everything that I have seen and heard about NHL 22, it looks like it is going to be a giant leap from previous games in the series. As a result, I’m excited for all the changes and benefits that the Frostbite Engine is bringing to NHL 22. Furthermore, it is exciting to see Superstar X-Factor come to NHL 22. All the major modes in this year’s game will benefit from it and will make NHL 22 one of the best entries into the series in recent memory.
All in all, I cannot wait to get my hands on NHL 22 this fall. Luckily, that won’t be long! NHL 22 launches on October 15, 2021 for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4 and Xbox One.